Tallahassee, Fla. (AP) – Disney sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday over a Republican takeover of its theme park district, accusing the governor of waging a “targeted campaign of government retaliation.” Say K.”
The lawsuit was filed in Tallahassee after a Disney World oversight committee appointed by DeSantis It voted to rescind an agreement that gave the company authority over design and construction decisions at its sprawling properties near Orlando.
“Disney regrets getting to this point,” the suit said. “But after efforts to seek a settlement have been exhausted, we have no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast, guests and local development partners from an unrelenting campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for political exposure. A perspective that some state officials don’t like.”
The legal filing is the latest salvo in a more than year-long feud Between Disney and DeSantis, the governor has been inundated with criticism as he prepares to launch his anticipated presidential bid. In the coming months.
DeSantis, who has fashioned himself as a Republican firebrand who can deftly implement his conservative agenda without drama, has struck out with a beloved company and major tourism driver as business leaders and White House rivals reject his stance. Small Government Principles of Conservatism
“We’re not aware of any legal right that requires a corporation to run its own government or maintain special privileges not held by other businesses in the state,” DeSantis spokesman Darrin Fenske said. “This case is another unfortunate example of Florida’s belief that voters are undermining their will and operating outside the bounds of the law.”
The fight began last year after Disney faced considerable pressurePublicly opposed a state law banning classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary grades, a policy critics call “don’t say gay.”
As punishment, DeSantis took over the self-governing district of Disney World and appointed a new board of supervisors to oversee municipal services at the sprawling theme parks. But before the new board came in, the company proposed an 11th-hour deal that stripped the new supervisors of much of their power.
The DeSantis board said Wednesday that Disney’s move to retain control of the property was illegal and was implemented without proper public notice.
“Disney picked a fight with this group. We didn’t expect a fight,” Martin Garcia, president of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, said before the vote. Confusion. It won’t work.”
DeSantis promised more retaliation, including proposals to improve state oversight of the resort’s rides and monorails and a proposal to build a prison nearby. On Wednesday, the Florida Senate passed a bill to implement those penalties and void contracts made by the Reedy Creek Board. The council still needs to approve it before moving forward.
Disney has maintained that all agreements reached with the previous group were legal and approved in public forum. Disney CEO Bob Iger said any action against the company that threatens jobs or expansion at its Florida resort is not just “anti-business” but “anti-Florida.”
The Disney lawsuit asks a federal judge to challenge the governor’s takeover of the theme park district and the actions of the DeSantis oversight board, saying they violate the company’s free speech rights.
“A targeted campaign of government retaliation — orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech — now threatens Disney’s business operations, harms its economic future in the region and violates its constitutional rights,” the lawsuit said.